Audi unveiled its Q4 E-Tron Wednesday and it seems like a highly credible rival to Tesla’s Model Y. We got a preview of this back in March but now the real thing is here.
Audi says the Q4 E-Tron’s range is 250 miles, which is less than the Model Y’s 300-plus, though it may not be as simple as that. But what stands out here is the price, which Audi said would start at under $45,000 before tax incentives, or more than $5,000 less than a Model Y Long Range.
What you get for that is 150 kW — or just over 200 horsepower — of output in the rear-wheel drive Q4 40 E-Tron base model, while the pricier Q4 50 E-Tron has an output of 220 kW, or almost 300 hp. The Q4 50 E-Tron also gets all-wheel drive, along with the Q4 50 E-Tron Sportback.
And while the base Q4 40 E-Tron only has a single rear motor, the Q4 50 E-Tron and Q4 50 E-Tron will have a second motor up front that will activate to provide more traction as conditions dictate.
Audi spends a lot of time talking about the Q4 E-Tron’s exterior and interior in its release, which I think will be more and more of a thing with each new EV, as consumers show little appetite for thinking about electric drivetrains, or at least less than they do about internal combustion engines.
To that end, Audi says that it had aerodynamics in mind, with Q4 E-Tron’s drag coefficient being 0.28, and the Q4 E-Tron Sportback’s 0.24. Audi also is trying to differentiate itself with exterior lighting tricks.
Keeping innovation at the forefront, even at the brand’s most accessible EV entry point, the Q4 e-tron electric SUVs offer available Matrix design LED headlights with customizable daytime running light signatures – a world first. The driver can switch between four running light signatures in the MMI touch operating system. At the rear, a light strip links the taillight units to each other and is available with animated coming-home and leaving-home functions.
On the inside, Audi says there is more room because there is no center tunnel. An “augmented” head-up display is also optional.
The premium interior of the Audi Q4 e-tron is spacious and airy; the instrument panel intentionally turned toward the driver. A separate floating panel houses the shifter under which is a convenient storage and wireless charging cradle for compatible devices. Also new is the steering wheel with its seamless touch surfaces, which the driver can use to control the digital instrument cluster. Infotainment and navigation are operated primarily using the central 10.1-inch MMI touch display, paired with the 10.25-inch digital instrument cluster or optional virtual cockpit. The available integrated surround-view cameras are especially helpful when driving in the city, and parking in tight spaces. Natural voice control provides a third operating interface.
Finally, the Q4 E-Tron will have a whole host of semi-autonomous systems to compete with Tesla’s Autopilot, though Audi didn’t say if those are standard or not (I’m guessing not.) The systems include an adaptive cruise assist that “offers assistance with longitudinal and lateral guidance over the entire speed range and in certain traffic scenarios through a combined Traffic Jam assist.” That describes a Level 2 semi-autonomous system, and a stop-and-go semi-autonomous system, both things consumers have come to expect.
Audi said the Q4 E-Tron and Q4 E-Tron Sportback will be available later this year, and its announcement Wednesday contained a bit of swagger, with Audi saying that it would “have more fully electric models on sale in the U.S. than any other luxury brand by the end of 2021.”
That’s a pointed reference to Tesla, which sells four EVs here. Including the E-Tron GT, the E-Tron, and the E-Tron Sportback, Audi will now have five. And a brand like Audi is the kind of brand that might even turn the head of a would-be Tesla buyer, or at least more than Volkswagen with its version of the Q4 E-Tron, the ID.4 or Chevy with its Bolt EUV. Whether that is enough is anyone’s guess.